Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Lingvoj de Francio

…de la Guardian:

For years France's regional languages were seen by Paris as a taboo that threatened national unity and should be repressed - children were punished for speaking Breton in the playground, banned from speaking Occitan in southern schools or Alsatian dialect in the east. But now, just as the French parliament has taken a historic step to recognise minority languages in the constitution, a new war of words has broken out.

L'Académie française, the institution that defends the purity of French, yesterday issued a furious warning that recognising regional languages in the constitution would be "an attack on French national identity". In turn, local language militants criticised the academy as a ridiculous relic of outdated nationalism.

The row has highlighted how far France differs from other European countries in the defence of minority tongues. Unlike the UK, which has acted to protect languages such as Welsh and Scottish Gaelic, France is one of the few European states which refuses to ratify the European charter for minority languages and give legal status to its various language groups.

France boasts 75 regional languages, including those spoken in far-flung territories from the Indian Ocean to South America. Regional languages such as Alsatian, Occitan, Corse, Breton and Basque, and even smaller ones such as Béarnaise and Picard, have increasingly powerful and well-organised lobby groups…

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